Bristol

Bristol zookeepers begin annual animal count

Leaf cutter ants Image copyright PA Media
Image caption The zoo's colony of leafcutter ants are a challenge to count because of their size and their numbers

All 10,000 creatures at Bristol Zoo are being meticulously counted by keepers as part of its annual census.

Staff armed with clipboards began checking the number of residents across the 12-acre site on Friday morning.

The count of every animal, from ants to gorillas, usually takes most of the day to complete.

The animal stock-take is carried out at the start of each year to check numbers tally with zoo records and that vulnerable populations are thriving.

A giant Vietnamese stick insect Image copyright PA Media
Image caption The animal census is carried out ready for the start of each new year and takes most of the day
Giant tortoise numbers are ticked off Image copyright PA Media
Image caption John Partridge, from the zoo, said: "Counting the animals is an important task because it acts as an audit to check that our records are accurate."

A zoo spokeswoman, said "some animals are easier to count than others", including the rare golden poison arrow frog - of which the zoo has four.

"These toxic amphibians are the most poisonous frogs in the world," she said.

"Just one individual contains sufficient toxin in its skin to kill at least 20 adults."

Along with a colony of leafcutter ants, the count also includes a flock of "noisy" black-cheeked lovebirds, she added.

Zoo Image copyright Bristol Zoo
Image caption A similar count is taking place at Bristol Zoo's sister site Wild Place Project just off junction 17 of the M5
Aquarium Image copyright Bristol Zoo
Image caption The exercise acts as an audit so the zoo can check that its records are accurate

In 2019, the 95-strong flock was boosted by the arrival of 30 chicks making it one of the biggest in Europe.

John Partridge, senior curator, said counting the animals was an "important task".

"It acts as an audit to check that our records are accurate," he said.

"We have precise information on individual animals and groups, which we share with colleagues around the world to help care for the animals."

All images copyrighted

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